Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Repeatedly, and mercilessly.
So, this was to be my entry for this year's #FlashGun Challenge. Didn't happen, because plastic parts melted. Then, when I was done repairing that, the metal parts melted, and kept melting in the face of repeated attempts at lecturing them about Ohm's Law being law, and not Ohm's General Suggestions.
In the end, I performed a sacrifice to the saber gods, gutted my only pixel saber for its high discharge 18650, and converted it from my preferred saber illumination method of a tri-cree to a pixel blade.
It seems to be working. For now.
This saber started off life as a Presslite Senior III, and as far as I can tell, is one of two that exist on the internet (I found one other on the RPF's custom saber thread). Despite much trying, I haven't been able to find out much about Presslite. It was a British company, and there is a photography equipment manufacturer that currently exists using the name, but they're unrelated. I was able to find that a notice that Presslite ceased trading in 1963, and that's about it.
Before I got my hands on it, it looked like this (Pics from the original eBay auction, because I forgot to take some of my own before I started gutting it)
And this is what it looked like after building and rebuilding (and re-rebuilding):
-Custom body made from a vintage flashgun
-Custom 3D printing throughout
-custom, handfiled metalwork throughout
-handmade 130 pixel RGBW blade
-removable core chassis
It's a rather unique design, made from lathed aluminium, with a top-mounted reflector and three pin ports spaced around the top- one more than a Graflex, and honestly, just the basic flashgun itself screams LIGHTSABER. It even weighs right empty, because it has a screw-on cap at the bottom that is a solid chunk (9mm thick) of aluminium.
I considered using the reflector base to make a vintage flashgun crossguard saber, but I'd just done a crossguard and was in no hurry to do another.
By sheer coincidence, it turns out that this at least 50-year old saber has dimensions that matched up with MHS. The OD is about 0.2mm smaller than MHS OD, and the ID fits snugly around MHS male threads. So, my plan was to hybridise this with hacked up MHS parts. it was only after I bought them that I realised that the wall thickness in a few places was less than 1mm, and those were the places were I'd be mounting bolts to secure the MHS parts, and there was too great a risk that, if whacked too hard, the bolts could easily shear through the 50+ year old, 0.9mm thick walls.
Instead, I had Darren of JQ sabers machine me a custom emmitter from an MHS 3" blank that fit nice and snugly inside.
Design-wise, I tried to aim for the old Legends continuity, specifically a pre-New Jedi Order, Yavin Jedi Academy era saber. I didn't have a specific character in mind, just that kind of look, and I think I got it. I wanted to have a clamp box, which I normally avoid for ergonomics, but it fit in the "vintage" design. The flashgun came with a crummy, Bakelite switch box that crumbled to dust in my hands, so I decided to replace it with a Graflite-styled box.
The Clamp box is a custom 3D printed piece, inspired by the gear-like section on Genesis Custom's Corran Horn- in fact, this saber spent about a month in the design stage as my take on Corran Horn's saber. I decided against it in the end, but will at some point make my take on the saber of St Corran, Patron Saint of Sabersmithing. I liked the kinda geared look of that section, so I decided to turn it into a clamp box.
From there, I took the same geared design and shrunk it for the pommel accent piece. the Activation switch is another 3D print, based off a Graflite switch. I didn't have one, so I guessed at the dimensions from pictures. it's a little off, but it looks the part for me. I've always thought the Graflite switch box would look better turned 180 degrees, so it looks a bit more spaceshipy (kinda like a Viper from BSG), so I did that.
I used a mishmash of Graflex short and Anakin RotS pins, mostly because for the first time ever, TCSS screwed up my order of two sets of RotS pins and sent me a set of each. I'd complain, but I kinda like the mismatched pins. Every cloud has a silver lining, and so on.
The chassis core is a custom job, 3D printed parts held together by hand filed aluminium tubing. I tried something that I've wanted to do for a while, which is applying paint into the etched details. Which, to be honest, didn't come out great. I think that's more a matter of technique than anything else. I applied the paint just after I'd etched the designs into the chassis, so that I could use the vinyl resist as a a paint mask, but then all the hand filing dust and grime got stuck in there on top of the paint, and cleaning it up a bit took too much off. And yeah, it looks a bit meh. I'll definitely keep working on the technique though, I think it has potential to make etched details pop out a bit.
The Crystal Chamber in the chassis was all found parts, specifically my old go-to, vintage-look brass lamp fittings. I was trying to do something different than the ubiquitous radiator-ring CC, and I had a lot of empty space in hilt for once, so I decided to take inspiration from the CC in the Ilum section of the old 2003 Clone Wars. This bit:
I did make a sphere from some architectural acrylic domes, but it just didn't look great and got in the way of running wires to the LEDs, so it got nixed.
So yeah. I built about 95% of this saber in a 5 day spree in october, just before the challenge deadline. Then, the day before the challenge ended, my parts melted. I've been trying the technique of coating 3D prints in epoxy to hide the layer lines, and for the most part, it's worked out really well. except that one time, where the epoxy overheated while curing and managed to melt my parts beyond salvaging. That took me out of the challenge.
But, if that hadn't happened, the resistors exploding would have done the same.
See the Exploding Resistors and Further Resistor Furstrations threads for details.
Finally, out of time and budget, I gutted Saber V for its neopixel battery and hastily converted it to a pixel saber (as well as upgrading my DIY pixel blade to an RGBW
And now, it is done. it works, and I am free of the sodding thing.
Might shoot some video of it working later, might not. depends if the camera has any battery.
Anyway, thanks for reading.